Miners damaging FIFO workers: unions

Greg Roberts

Mining companies have been accused of still treating fly-in fly-out workers poorly by not looking after their mental health more than a year after a government inquiry recommended industry changes.

The WA government has also been criticised by unions and relatives of workers that died for implementing none of the 30 recommendations of its own committee in to legislation so far.

A spate of 12 suicides in a year involving FIFO workers sparked last year's inquiry and studies have found it put increased stress on families.

Peter Miller, who lost his son Rhys Connor in 2013, and Sharon Johnson, whose husband Anthony Johnson died last year, presented a petition on Tuesday containing 4800 signatures to inquiry chair MP Graham Jacobs calling for immediate changes.

"Nothing has been done and these corporations aren't going to go out of their way to make these changes unless it's legislated and they are made to do it," Ms Johnson told reporters.

She received publicity last year after an emotional post in which she complained about Thiess not returning her calls for nearly two weeks after she found her husband dead and initially refusing to pay his entitlements.

Rosters that forced employees to be away from home for too long were still widely used despite fixing those being the first recommendation of last year's inquiry, say unions.

The most common rosters were four weeks on, one week off, which the unions say maximises profit but leaves workers with less than five days at home every five weeks if they have to travel a long way.

"The government think 'motelling' (sharing beds with another shift) is over, it isn't, they think there is peer support out there, there isn't," AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney said.

"The government needs to do a proper evaluation of what is actually being implemented by companies of their own volition, which is nothing."

He repeated previous claims that workers did not take anti-depressant medication, believing when it was detected in drug tests they would lose their jobs as their mental ill-health would be seen as an unacceptable risk by the company.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA deputy chief executive Nicole Roocke denied that was the case and blamed union scaremongering for causing workers to worry.

Mr Miller said his son Rhys suffered depression shortly before his death, partly due to the isolation of FIFO work from his young child and a relationship break-up, but begged his father not to tell his employer OTOC because he feared he would lose his job.

Ms Roocke said the CME and mining companies took the issue seriously and were doing a lot of work around mental health services and working through the recommendations of last year's inquiry with the government and unions.

"This conversation isn't just about fly-in fly-out workers, what we see companies doing is looking at introducing wellbeing strategies for all of our workers regardless," she told AAP.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.